Category Archives: Leadership

Hidden Rewards

The Academy 2Have you ever noticed that those things in our lives that seem most difficult, usually end up being our biggest source of reward?

We transferred our two daughters to a new school the week after Thanksgiving. It’s called the Academy of Classical Christian Studies. This decision came with much discussion and prayer. There are a lot of little details that played into our choice, but the bottom line is we felt it was what God wanted us to do. So we did.

The Academy is a private Christian school that utilizes something called the blended model. What that means is the girls go to school two days a week, Tuesday and Thursday, then the rest of the week they have to do the school work that their teachers send home with them. It works out pretty brilliantly. The girls get a high-quality, Christian-based, classical education for a much lower cost. I had never heard of the “classical” model until coming to this school. If you’ve have never heard of it either, you can learn about it here. Or, for a much more in-depth reading, Dorothy Sayers’s essay The Lost Tools of Learning (a required read for all parents with children entering The Academy) is a great resource. I will warn you though, you might just find yourself wishing you had the chance to go back and get this education for yourself. I know I did. 

You’re probably picking up on this–we LOVE the Academy. But our transition has not been without it’s bumps and stumbles. There was a huge learning curve, not only academically, but especially in the area of personal discipline.  My girls and I had to develop a completely new rhythm. We had to learn together how to persevere through the challenges.

For the first couple of months, my oldest child was convinced she had made a mistake agreeing to go to this school. She complained a LOT;  “It’s So Hard!” she’d say, along with lots of other negative self-debasing comments whenever she felt especially challenged. To say that she tested my patience would be an understatement. Some days it took all I had not to break down into tears or let our disagreements escalate into a shouting match. It wasn’t always pretty. To be truthful, there were many moments that I could and should have handled better. But we learned and grew through the process.

Like so many valuable things in life, this change has been hard. But it has been worth it. Despite the pain and difficulties, there are many rewards. Some are obvious–we love having our girls home more and watching them learn scripture. But some have been hidden rewards that I never expected. One of the biggest for me is the satisfaction and fulfillment I experience as I get to witness my daughters learn. They amaze me with their quick minds and creative abilities. And I have learned right along with them, too! Not only in academic ways, but also about the temperaments and personalities of my girls.

It has given me a new appreciation for these wonderful creatures that God has entrusted me with. I’m learning to love them better. Being their teacher has allowed God to teach me in a new way. That’s what I call a win-win!

How about you? You may not be adventuring in blended school, but I’m sure you’ve got some challenges. What hidden rewards has God been showing you lately?

Preemptive Love

preemptive love - book cover-3Preemptive love is a choice, an action–It’s giving love to another before it’s been given to you. Extending trust to another, perhaps even before extended to you. It propels you to step towards another, even if you are rejected. It says, “I choose you over my fear.”

Preemptive love kicks out fear.

Jeremy’s Story

I meet Jeremy at a conference last year, and he was speaking on Preemptive Love. He shared how he and his wife, Jessica, (both American) moved to Istanbul, Turkey to provide international business opportunities which, unfortunately, did not turn out as planned. He called this “one of many failures along their journey that have led to sweet successes.”

They ended up moving their family to Iraq so Jeremy could work for an international relief and development agency. Jeremy worked each day from a nearby cafe. One day the owner came to him about his niece, sharing that she had a hole in her heart. He told Jeremy, “You are an American. You can help her.” Jeremy shared that he is not a surgeon and did not know anything about life-threatening heart situations. He felt overwhelmed. It seemed like most everyone in Iraq either had a family member with a heart defect or knew someone who did, and Iraq did not have facilities and/or doctors who could treat these conditions. He explained that he couldn’t help, but the owner pleaded with him, so Jeremy agreed to meet with the father. He did not know what he could offer, but he decided to listen to his story and give his time and support to the family.

Jeremy’s Story is My Story, Too

While I have not lived in Turkey or Iraq, I can relate to Jeremy’s story. I have invested much time, energy, and passion studying, preparing, and pursuing a goal, and have watched it not work out as planned. I can also relate to working full-time, being in a new place, and juggling spending time with family and friends. How often have I felt that I was not equipped well enough, that I do not have the time, skills, or ability to help?

But Jeremy jumped in anyway, and gave his time to be with this father. He risked feeling helpless and overwhelmed and sad, and he just gave what he could–his time and support. He understood–the power of presence.

A Little Courage and A Little Audacity

Jeremy was honest and told the family he did not know how he would be able to help them with the surgery. But the conversation stayed with him, and a connection was formed. Jeremy was at a pivotal point: he could easily excuse himself from the problem–anyone would understand. Or he could choose the more challenging (maybe even a little crazy) route, and commit to helping this family find a surgery solution to save this little girl. He chose to invest.

He did not make promises of her receiving the surgery, but he committed himself to helping their family. He shifted his plans, stepped through the fear, and served them in learning what was needed to provide a heart surgery for this little girl. This was the start of his Preemptive Love experiment that has birthed into the Preemptive Love Coalition. His motto, [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“Violence unmakes the world. Preemptive Love unmakes violence and remakes the world through healing.”[/content_box_light_blue]

dream - risk, care, dream, expectBecause of Jeremy’s faith and love, this little girl received her heart surgery, in addition to over 30 other kids in the same year! From this first act of love, a network of international surgical doctors and hospitals has come onto the scene, bringing international teams into Iraq to host surgical training programs for local Iraqis and developing the infrastructure needed to sustain these treatments at home. Today Iraqis are able to perform these heart surgeries with surgical teams all across the country.

But the story doesn’t end there. In the course of physically healing hearts, bridges have been built for connection and social healing between people who once saw each other as enemies (i.e. The Kurds and Turks, Sunni and Shia, and Iraqis and Americans.)

Pushing Past the Fear

Jeremy recently gave this TEDAustin talk. He continued sharing the message of Preemptive Love and inviting people to incorporate it into their own lives and communities. He knows our hesitance, but he implores us, [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“If we live skeptically and only by the principles of risk-management, I fear we’ll miss the opportunity to remake the world around us.”[/content_box_light_blue]

Relationships and stories sparked a dream in Jeremy–to eradicate the back log of children waiting for surgeries due to life threatening heart defects. Now he is living the dream and on pace to achieve it over the next 10 years!

Jeremy’s story inspires me to act in love in order to remake the world around me, so I am jumping towards my dream in building connections, reconciliation, and unity among culturally and religiously diverse people. Preemptive love removes fear, builds bridges, and remakes the world through healing.

What’s your dream? Where could you enact Preemptive Love in your life to step out in love, remove fear, and grab hold of your dream?

On Traveling, Seething, and Gratitude

disneyHeaded to the Happiest Place on Earth

By time you read this, I will be with my husband and the girls at Disney World for a fabulous family vacation. I know they are going to absolutely love it. I have been to Disney numerous times as a kid, and though it’s been many years since my last visit, I remember how amazing and magical it is.

I loved Kimberly’s blog last week about the special memories that they are creating with their family getaways–I could not agree more about the value of these shared experiences with our loved ones. This trip was our Christmas present to the girls and I know it will be so much more valuable to them than “stuff.”

The Real World Roller Coaster

This week leading up to our trip has been a roller coaster for me though. (Pun intended!) I’m trying to focus on our amazing trip, but I’m a little riled up. Again.

Last Sunday our Pastor was discussing Ephesians 4 and the 11th verse that discusses how Christ gave different gifts in order to equip the body(Church): some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers. He mentioned the 18 Apostles named in the New Testament. I was quite excited to see him go here, because one of the Apostles mentioned by Paul (Romans 16:7) is Junia. Not trying to stir any commotion here, but many scholars believe that Junia was a woman (!). If this is news to you, check out these great articles here and here.

well behaved

I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation,  excited at the prospect that this might bring up some discussion about Women in the church. I couldn’t wait to see what he would say.

No mention of it. As a matter of fact, he referred to the 18 Apostles as dudes. Never a word that one of these “dudes” might not be a dude.

I began to get a little prickly. Trying to be patient, I waited for any other examples of female leadership or at least some gender feminine or gender neutral language. Nothing. As a matter of fact, every person he referenced who exhibited one of the gifts mentioned was male. Personal or biblical, all were masculine: He, Him, Guys, Dudes. I was starting to seethe. I love our church, but days like this are so frustrating to me!

The message deepened the dissonance I’ve been feeling since last Sunday. Our church has been on a big push to get people into “home groups” and to recruit new “home group” leaders. They showed a video of three leaders, and all three were men. Am I the only one who notices this sort of thing and is bothered by it? I had planned to make an appointment to talk to the Pastor this past week, but with all the vacation prep, it didn’t happen. Now I’m not sure I’m ready–I’m still too agitated. I want to make sure I approach him from a heart that is focused on this year’s OneWord365 for me: Gratitude.

Summit Christmas_2013I am struggling to keep my soul focused on gratitude when I am so frustrated with Christ’s Bride, the Church. So Brianna’s recent blog was quite a balm to my bedraggled soul. I was so encouraged to see that she is “scuffling” with her word, too.  It’s not just me!

Getting Back to My “Happiest” Place

There is, of course, so much more I could say, even want to say.  But honestly, I don’t have the time right now–this week is about family, about crafting memories and expressing gratitude. I am taking these beauties to “The Happiest Place on Earth” for five glorious days. Time to focus on this good “stuff.” I can “scuffle” over my other concerns later :)

 

In Response to Pat Robertson–To Wives With Cheating Husbands

Kim’s post yesterday about Mark Driscoll was spot on.

Then Pat Robertson opens his mouth and spews disgusting advice. It makes me so angry. Fire-spitting angry.

He has an audience, a following, a platform, and Christian leaders don’t stand up to correct him. They let this continue while the Mark Driscolls of the world follow in order condemning women.

To you, Beautiful Wife…the one with the cheating husband, the husband addicted to porn, I don’t know if anyone else will say it to you: It is NOT your fault.  You do not control the actions of your husband’s mind with a clean house or meals on the table or by dressing pretty for him.  Your husband is responsible for his own thoughts, his actions, his fantasies, and whether or not he acts on those thoughts. Your husband is responsible for how he treats you, how he talks to you, how he raises the children that both of you brought into this world.

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You are responsible for your thoughts and actions.  Not his. You are beautiful, lovely, and loved. Just because your husband doesn’t value you enough to keep his pants zipped up does not mean you have no worth. It does not mean that you are not a majestic creature made lovingly by the Creator.

I don’t know know why your husband is doing these things. I don’t know why you’re in this position or why you have to deal with it. I’m so sorry that you do. But please don’t lose yourself because he doesn’t respect you. Spend time abiding in our Savior and let Him remind me how valuable you are.

And please listen carefully. If you are part of a congregation that believes that men aren’t responsible for their actions: LEAVE NOW. Seek out a real Christ-following body of believers. Your spirit will immediately tell you when you have found safety.

The Latest from Mark Driscoll Makes Me TIRED.

It’s been way too long since my last post. I know.

I just deleted my third blog post about why I’ve been on hiatus. Forget it. It’s been an awkward season in my brain, and every post I’ve tried to write about it has been, well, awkward. My husband says, “How about you keep a journal and blog about other things?” I thought, “Are you crazy? I don’t have time to keep a journal! I can’t even find time to write this blog I keep deleting!!” But this morning I felt like God was maybe asking me to keep a journal for a season, so that’s the new plan.

Moving on.

Mark Driscoll, man.

Came across this yesterday. Seriously, Mark Driscoll?

If you don’t have the time, or desire, to watch this video, I’ll borrow my friend Aaron Monts‘s summary: “This condemnation is specifically for all stay-at-home dad’s, ‘Peter Pan types’ who simply don’t want to grow up and instead choose the lazy route as a stay-at-home dad rather than being a real man who provides for his family. This is a role that no woman can respect.”

Whenever I hear this man quoted, I fight the urge to quit the ministry. But then I try to breathe deeply and remember that being a woman doesn’t disqualify me in the eyes of most people these days, that this passion that I am chasing will not be void.

I want to say that, in fact, since I work with people who speak permission and have stated goals of empowering women in the church, that I am never troubled with this malarkey. (This whole blog may be an elaborate excuse for me to use the word “malarkey.” But then I second-guessed the word choice so I’ve linked to dictionary.com because I’m just a big nerd and I found the first definition a little bit fascinating in this context… again, big nerd here.)

The truth, though, is that Mark Driscoll’s comments get to me a little bit because I am affected in a lot of little ways by this conversation. It’s complicated being female and in ministry. When I taught in the inner-city, my students would tell about run-ins with the police for WWB. Walking While Black. It sounds funny but it was true too often. Sometimes I think I need some cute little acronym to say something is the effect of being in ministry while also being–read this in a whisper for effect–a woman. Something like MWB, ministering with breasts, but if you take that too literally, it would imply something a bit scandalous. Ministering while breasted? Or MF, ministry female, but no… I’ll just stop there, no good is coming of this.

Anyway, if I had that kind of cutesy acronym, I could use it, say, when I turn down my 42nd request to do provide childcare at a church. Why do they keep asking you to lead Sunday School, you ask? MWB.

I fight the urge to rejoin the corporate world every time I turn down a secretarial or childcare role or hand back a spool of ribbon, wondering if I am not enough of a servant. I fight it when decisions are made that affect me while the boys are smoking cigars or grilling or name-any-other-“manly”-thing-that-guys-do-that-aren’t-really-“for women.” I fight the urge to remove myself from the conversation whenever someone asks if it bothers Ben that he has to watch his own son so much so that I can lead (It doesn’t, but the question bothers him a lot), or implies that if I really loved Jack I’d just want to stay home every day because that’s what loving moms do.

I didn’t grow up evangelical, and I didn’t start my professional life in church-world, so little things stand out to me that other women might not even notice. None of it is a big deal on its own, but the cumulative effect is draining. It’s tiring and some days I just want to sit down and refuse to move (This is Jack’s current strategy whenever he has to do something unpleasant, like, say, leave the park. So I now know what God must feel like when I engage this particular strategy. Sorry about that, Jesus.)

Standing Up Anyway

Thank God for the people in my life who encourage me to stand up. The Forge crew isn’t perfect, but when I joined the Forge team a little over a year ago, the boys actually invited me to smoke cigars with them when I joined the team, which I did so, terribly and proudly. They may have re-lit my cigar about a dozen times.

You see, it’s the small things that do damage over time, but it’s the small things that heal, too.

Thank God for Aaron, a stand-up guy from our tribe who wrote How I “Denied the Faith” and Became a “Godless Man” yesterday about Mark’s remarks around gender roles from a dad’s perspective. Seriously, thank God for you Aaron. Thank you for reminding me that this conversation doesn’t just affect and categorize women. Thank you for your well-reasoned exegesis of the text. Thanks for this small, healing post that served me yesterday as a hand extended, saying, Stand up, Kimberly, we’re in this together.

On Power and Permission

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Anyone who is married and/or has children knows what this means. Sometimes it isn’t just the words you use, but how you say them that implies your meaning.

This week I read a blog that got me thinking about this in a new light. Why certain people bother me when they “seem” to be saying something I agree with concerning women in leadership. But somehow, it doesn’t sit right with me. This blog explains it perfectly.

http://kathyescobar.com/2012/09/10/we-let-women-lead/

I hope it challenges you as it does me to be aware of those subtle cues that imply that the power and thus permission is still in the wrong place. God is the giver of all good things. Let us always find our identity and freedom in Jesus.

 

Being and Doing

A couple of days ago I got to attend a fancy-pants, dress-up dinner with my husband. I both love and hate these sort of things. I love to go and see everyone in their fancy outfits and eat fancy food. I hate to wear hose. Please don’t make me say pantyhose, what an embarrassing word. Ok, sorry. I’m being ridiculous. You might say to me, why do you wear them then? Well, because I have a fairly large Star Wars tattoo on my right leg, that’s why. I feel it doesn’t quite fit in with my dress-up look .

But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get to the important part. At this event, our Pastor said something that I can’t seem to get off my mind.  He said that the christian walk is a balance of both Being and Doing. That in order for us to be a successful church we must keep these two things in the proper tension. We can’t focus on Doing, to the detriment of Being. And vice versa. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it has really been messing with me.

I think that I focused on the Being and not the Doing for years and years. Then in the past year and a half, as God has shaped my heart toward being more missional, I have transitioned into the Doing focused life. But, then my Being side has felt empty and ignored.

Being

Being would refer to our personal disciplines with God, such as studying scripture and spending time in prayer or worship. Developing the fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galations 5:22. The focus would be Being more like Jesus.

Doing

Then of course the Doing would be when we engage in using our spiritual gifts to impact others. The focus would be on Doing what Jesus did in the world.  [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.” ~Saint Teresa of Avila[/content_box_light_blue]

Balance and Discipling

It seems that Jesus kept these two things in perfect balance. Perhaps as the Son of God it was easier for him. For me as a follower of Christ, it seems as if my pendulum swings from one side to the other. I just can’t seem to keep it centered. Please tell me I am not alone in this.

As I have been pondering this conundrum, the word that keeps coming up is DISCIPLING. I know. It’s not what you were expecting, but stay with me here.

The more I look at it, the more sense it makes. I am a big fan of Joel Rosenberg, who just co-wrote, The Invested Life: making disciples of all nations one person at a time. He says this: [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]Every follower of Jesus Christ should be able to answer two simple questions: First, “Who is investing in me?” And second, “Whom am I investing in?” God calls this process of spiritual investing “making disciples.” It’s the heart of the Great Commission. It’s the vision of a great local church. It’s the secret of a healthy, joyful, secure, and significant life. We call it “the invested life.”[/content_box_light_blue]

I think this is the heart of striking the balance. To have someone who is investing in us to ensure that we are growing spiritually, someone we are accountable to: that covers the Being side. Then to have someone that we are investing in with emotional and spiritual capital: that covers the Doing side. It all seems so simple, right?

I want to seek balance through DISCIPLING. Will you join me?  I think it might just change our lives.

God Leaves Us Alone

At this very moment in time, I am being accused (again) of wanting to teach –and– in that same breath I am also accused (again) of wanting to take over a church.

IMG_8872

Please forgive me while I compose myself–my eyes are watering from the furious laughter.

All of this by the same man, a so-called pastor, who (from what I can tell) hasn’t matured a single iota in the past six years. Six years ago, I struggled with my identity in Christ because I didn’t know I had an identity in Christ. When this man and his leadership team told me I could no longer teach in their church and as a matter of fact, I could not serve in any capacity at their church, I went to God.

God gives each member of His church a gift and that gift is for the purpose of edifying and lifting up His body of believers (all with their own unique and individual gifts.) Sometimes a few gifts are present and they work together.  My gifts are discernment and teaching. And just like our human bodies have checks and balances, so does our spiritual body of believers.

When you get a cut that becomes infected–your body knows. White blood cells produce antibodies to cover the infection and more white blood cells eat up the antibodies. The white blood cells then die off, save for a few, who remember the infection and are dispatched quickly if that bacteria enters the body again to work super hard at ousting the offender before infection occurs.  Platelets are sent to heal the wound and protect it from further dirt and bacteria.

My purpose in God’s body of believers is to provide wisdom (like the white blood cells who remember the infection) my other purpose is to teach other believers (or new white blood cells) what the false teachers (bacteria) look like and how to protect the body (form the antibodies.) Other believers with gifts like mercy are sent to help bind the wound (platelets.)  And so on.

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"] About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the Lord, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So the Lord’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime…

However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.

2 Chronicles 32:24-31[/content_box_light_blue]

The last time this pastor flung his imaginary accusations against me, I learned some pretty hefty lessons.

One of the most important lessons was that I should be listening to God. I never asked to teach in this pastor’s congregation. He appointed me to several teaching positions and I accepted thinking he’s a pastor, he must know what God wants for me. 

There was much pain involved in this battle. I made it out alive–with scars and shrapnel–but I made it and learned from it. I suppose I then forgot about all the garbage (bacteria) or maybe just filed it away and moved on.  God allowed healing years later when I unpacked a box with my notes from this pastor’s sermons.  I tore them up and re-purposed them in my (God-given) art and in the brokenness God whispered to me

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:3[/content_box_light_blue]

 

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Here we are six years later, a different church, and this pastor appears again. This time poisoning a new leadership team with his lies.  A leadership team, who also asked me to teach several classes, who asked me to be their women’s team leader, to be on their kid’s VBS team, and to work with the youth and teach in that setting.  This time, my “white blood cell memory” took hold and I went to God in deep prayer over what he would have me do. And He answered very clearly every single step of the way (and believe me, I prayed every single decision out.) I did what I was led by the Spirit to do and again face these same, worn out accusations.

But this time, instead of worrying about a pastor lying about me and (possibly) ruining my reputation, I’m pressing in (as Kimberly so adequately said it yesterday) and I do see the purpose behind my pain. Without it, I would’ve never known what God truly had waiting for me. I would’ve been stuck in the pew under the authority of someone whose fruit is rotten.  I wouldn’t have learned that I was created for a purpose. I might have believed that pastor and his team who thought I should be silent and bake cinnamon rolls instead of using the gifts God gave me for the purpose of His kingdom.

Visual Prayer

 

I wouldn’t be here writing this.

And there is someone reading this who doesn’t know their identity in Christ. If that’s you–you need to seek Him out and ask Him to show you what you were created for–because you were created for a purpose and it’s bigger than you can ever fathom!

God left me alone for a period this time. I’m sure to test my heart. I don’t like it, but I’m glad He did, because I now understand that He has my absolute best interests in mind when He takes me through the valley. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; but God comes that we may have life, and have it to the full.

There is a thief out there, prowling, seeking to destroy your identity in Christ. You need only press in and seek God in order to bathe in the victory Christ offers.

Is there a thief you’ve handed authority of your identity to?

 

 

Communitas and Fortune Cookies

Over the past two weeks, I’ve transitioned into an exciting new role with Forge America. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, but the joy doesn’t end there. I love love LOVE our tribe. The more I get to know these people, the more I like them. Really.

I think it’s because Forge, as it’s name implies, attracts people who have been through the fire, and it attracts people to the fire, too. Any honest reading of scripture reveals that our loving God is also a refining, pruning God. You know that verse that says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend,” the one that everyone quotes in a warm, fuzzy, greeting-card voice? Shawn Lovejoy said recently, “You know how iron sharpens iron? Heat and Friction.” Yes. It’s true friends. You heard it here. (I heard it at Exponential a couple weeks ago).

Forge is not the only direction from which I’m receiving this message of struggle. Yesterday, I ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant with my friend Kellen, and this was my fortune. We both laughed–here’s to fortune cookies, right? But let’s be real, I already know this lesson pretty well. To be honest, I wish I knew it a little less–I’ve experienced a lot of “understanding.” Editing out the painful parts would make my journey more comfortable, but it would mean giving up the wisdom and the healing and the refining that God has produced in me through the hard seasons.

Forge embraces this fortune completely. The founding directors Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost talk about it extensively in their book, The Faith of Leap.  Basically, Forge seeks to move beyond community to communitas–a level of connection and interdependence that is born out of a common struggle or challenge. This is a bit different than what most churches call “fellowship.” To truly live on mission with Jesus involves risk and adventure, a de-prioritization of safety and the status quo. The early church–more of a movement than an institution–understood this well.

I hope that over time, BeBeloved creates space for a kind of communitas. Whenever I find myself in a room of missional women, there is a community born out of a common struggle; it’s not always easy for women to be on mission or (gasp) lead in the church. If you’re feeling that tension, we want to walk and fight with you–we can lend each other strength and wisdom along the way.

 

 

Shoulders of Giants

A week or so ago I posted about More Than Enchanting by Jo Saxton.  I hope it inspired you to run out immediately and buy the book.  If you haven’t yet, let me entice you some more.  This book has influenced how I see myself as a leader in my church context.  I honestly feel that the first two chapters of Jo’s book should be mandatory reading for every Christ follower. Bold statement, I know.

The first chapter, The Blueprint,” outlines the Old Testament creation story of who women are.  It really establishes the base understanding for God’s plan for women.  Then the next chapter, very aptly entitled, “The Cloud of Witnesses, is undoubtedly the most comprehensive look at women and their roles in scripture that I have ever read; the most compelling part for me was reading all the examples of women leaders in the Church of the New Testament. It’s so freeing to know how many women have led before me. Jo quotes Isaac Newton, who said “If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”-Isaac Newton.

But what about Paul?

Paul really is the proverbial elephant in the room when you engage in any discussion about women and leadership in the church. Jo Saxton doesn’t shy away from taking the topic head on.  I will leave it up to you to read the in-depth research that she does on the nature of his New Testament writings to Timothy and the Church in Corinth, but I’ll give you a little taste of what she has to say in reference to the fervently quoted 1 Timothy 2:12.  It summarizes so eloquently my frustration with the whole topic. [content_box_paper_white width="75%"]It’s now that we realize these few verses do not communicate or even summarize all that Paul says about women, let alone the rest of the Bible! We haven’t taken cultural context into account, and translation difficulties.  We haven’t taken the women themselves into account. Years ago my pastor used to say that when it came to women in leadership, we have taken unclear or obscure verses and used them to reinterpret clear parts of the Bible.[/content_box_paper_white]

Please don’t misunderstand by interpreting these few lines to imply that Jo in anyway discounts what Paul says.  Much to the contrary, she takes into account the many references he makes to women in the whole of his writings and combines it with clear word translation and historical research.  The result is a refreshing reassurance that Paul is not some misogynist.  Actually, he endorsed female leaders and the significant contributions they made to advancing the gospel.

I am empowered.

Even though I know that God has gifted me as a leader, I still sometimes feel a sting of insecurity and question if I am capable of leading with men in the room. Through Jo’s research and teaching, I am able to set this down and instead lean into my gifting. Have you ever struggled this way? Do you wrestle with the church’s messaging that women should be silent?

Turns out the Father knew what He was doing when He created Women Leaders like us.